Luke recounts a story in Acts about how the early Christians were caring for each other’s needs. He specifically mentions a Cypriot Levite named Joseph who sold a field and brought the money from the sale to the apostles. Joseph was such a blessing that the apostles called him Barnabas, which means son of encouragement. This was a good thing.
There was a married couple who apparently observed Barnabas’ good deed and the appreciation he received for it. So they sold some property that they owned. But something happened to these two when they collected the money from the sale. While we can’t be exactly sure of their thoughts, Luke does tell us about the plan that they conceived, a plan which would cost them their lives!
As this couple, Ananias and Sapphira, thought about the money they received it became obvious that their primary objective was not to help fellow Christians. By mimicking the actions of Barnabas, they were hoping to gain the acclaim that he had received. But, the story becomes darker.
They decided to keep a portion of the money from the sale for themselves. Perhaps they sold the field for more than they expected. But for whatever reason, they decided they would hold some of this money back. Just on the face of the matter they still had not done anything wrong. As Peter explained to Ananias before the Lord killed him, he was free to do whatever he wanted with the money from the sale. Suppose the actual sale price was the equivalent of $1,000 and Ananias and his wife decided to keep $300 for themselves and donate the rest. So far so good. The church would have been thrilled to receive the balance. But here is where the true motives of their praise-loving hearts are exposed. They wanted to be perceived to be just like Barnabas. So, they determined to let it be known that what they gave was all of the money from the sale. They wanted the praise of people and a little extra cash for themselves; what’s not to like! The problem was they were not giving to those in need, they were giving a gift to themselves. They thought they could please people and keep their real intentions secret. Bad idea.
If you live for the praise and attention of people you are playing chicken with God. He will not share his glory with anyone, particularly those who would advance their own reputations by appearing to serve his church. Not everyone who acts this way will be dealt with as swiftly as this couple. But make no mistake, seeking the praise of people will lead to disaster. This story is a life lesson for you and your children.
The praise of people is a fatal attraction.